Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Death Toll Mounts in Indonesia as Battle Rages Over Bird Flu Study

Controversial research on how to make bird flu more contagious will be published after an initial delay, as the virus continues to take lives in Indonesia, the country worst hit by the disease.

The latest victim was a 12-year-old boy who died on Saturday at a hospital in Bali’s capital, Denpasar.

It was the fourth bird flu death in the country since the beginning of the year, despite the government’s claim that the disease is under control.

Since 2003, 186 people in Indonesia have been diagnosed with bird flu, with 156 deaths.

The virus, which is endemic in wild birds, has a death rate of around 60 percent when it infects humans.

But even the figure of 332 confirmed bird flu deaths worldwide since 2003 is low compared to human flu or other viruses such as HIV.

Experts are worried about bird flu because the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible from human to human and has the same high fatality rate as the current virus. That could cause a deadly pandemic, they say, which is why it is considered important to research what such a virus would look like and how it could be treated. Read More